With Eye on India, China Helps Pakistan Launch 2 Monitoring Satellites

With Eye on India, China Helps Pakistan Launch 2 Monitoring Satellites

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China on Monday successfully launched two remote sensing satellites for its “all-weather” ally Pakistan, which will also help the two countries monitor progress as they build the strategic USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. One of them the PRSS-1, is a remote sensing satellite built by China. The other, PakTES-1A is Pakistan’s indigenously developed scientific experiment satellite.

The two satellites were launched on Chinese rocket Long March-2C from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. The PRSS-1 is China’s first optical remote sensing satellite sold to Pakistan. It is the 17th satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for an overseas buyer. After entering orbit, the PRSS-1 is in good condition with its solar panels unfolded smoothly.

The remote-sensing PRSS-1 satellite can carry out day and night monitoring, and it has viewing capacity even in clouded conditions. The satellite would be used for land and resources surveying, monitoring of natural disasters, agriculture research, urban construction and to provide remote sensing information for China’s “Belt and Road” mega-project. Scientists said it would also help Pakistan keep watch on India.

The USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a network of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan that will connect China’s Xinjiang province with the Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, giving China an opening to the Arabian Sea.

The satellite, which has a designed life of seven years, is equipped with two panchromatic/multispectral cameras, with a resolution up to a metre and a coverage range of 60 km. Designers say the two cameras are among the best exported remote sensing cameras made by China. They can be used to monitor plant diseases and pests.

The data transmission system is a mature technology, which has been used in more than 20 Chinese satellites. Monday’s launch is the 279th mission of the Long March rocket series. Long March-2C rockets are mainly used to send satellites into low Earth or Sun-synchronous orbits.

With 43 operational satellites in space, India is way ahead of Pakistan in space technology. India also has the radar imaging satellites with all-weather surveillance capability. Three years ago, Pakistan opted out of India’s project for a “South Asia Satellite”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “gift” to SAARC countries was an extension of his “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas” ideology to India’s neighbourhood, where China is extending its influence.